Last week I got an SOS ping on Gchat from a former colleague. She needed to discuss some ‘unbearable work conditions’ and ordered me to call her asap. Anticipating gossip, a tirade about bad pay or boss bashing, I called her pronto. Her big crib of the day: ‘The guy who sits next to me stinks!’ Apparently her colleague, named Stinky Poo for the purpose of this story, radiates “a bloody unbearable stench” which is a mixture of body odour, unwashed clothes and buckets of deodorant.
Stinky Poo, like countless other Delhizens, believes that winter comes with a ‘Get Out Of Bathing Free’ card. According to this school of thought, around this time in the Capital it’s too cold to sweat and therefore unnecessary to bathe. Someone I know knows someone who has a bath only on Sundays in December and January. Every other day, he has a ‘dry wash’, cleans his face, sprays expensive cologne and heads out smelling like a perfumery. According to nose-witness accounts, after the first onslaught of the expensive smell, stale sweat takes centre stage.
Further discussion on the topic at various public gatherings (read: office, office, office) introduced me to two more followers of the No Bath in Winter tenet. One of them, a dear friend I have promised not to judge, says she feels “happy and refreshed knowing that she saved the planet some water.”
Okay Lady Stink A Lot. The other follower, a distant colleague (we’re 8 floors apart) says, “There are too many layers to take off and re-wear, my clothes don’t stink, so I know that I don’t either,” he explains. But deep down, he feels like a scarlet woman. “I feel there are odour lines wafting around me, like squiggles in cartoons and that everyone knows I haven’t had a bath and is judging me,” he confesses.
Yes, they probably are. Bad odour is always a sore point in company, especially in winter because there’s no fresh air to do the rounds — what with sealed windows and central heating. Besides, it’s simply unhygienic. It may be cold right now, but single digit Celsius doesn’t make the pollution and dust disappear. You may not sweat a river, but you still get dirty and grimy — a state of being you cannot continue masking with new doses of perfume. After a point you become like Stinky Poo – with a body odour so strong that people have to come up with lame nicknames for you!
If you’d rather not give a damn, that’s also cool. You can keep company with the Clean Freaks, those weirdoes who bathe twice or thrice a day, regardless of the weather. You’ll balance each other out and restore harmony to the universe.